People love to think that sports like basketball, football, and baseball are individual sports. They love the idea of one person carrying an entire team and being great. Except they forget that there’s rarely any time that a superstar athlete has ever carried his team to win a championship. A great team will always beat one superstar, and those are just facts. History simply doesn’t lie, and the success of professional sports are built on the backs of star-studded teams. Everyone also wants to talk about the importance of loyalty as well, but athletes in sports like football and basketball know that most of the time the situation given to a future star athlete is usually not ideal. Athletes know that great teams litter all of history, and they realize if they truly want to win they have to put themselves in a situation to succeed.
Sports should be all about teamwork, but from an entertainment aspect, the idea of one man or woman carrying a team is just more appealing. Let me define what I think a super team is before going any further. I believe a team qualifies as a super team when there is at least three future Hall of Famers on the team that is in or close to their prime. For example, teams like the 90s Chicago Bulls and Dallas Cowboys I consider super teams. The Bulls had Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen as their core, and they are arguably the greatest defensive duo in NBA history. Add in Dennis Rodman who help them win 3 championships, and that’s a super team in my books. The Dallas Cowboys had their triplets in Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin. Not to mention hall of fame players like Larry Allen and Deion Sanders as well.
I do consider teams who drafted their stars as super teams as well. It’s very rare for any professional sports franchise to draft 3 or even 2 hall of Famers in a relatively close timespan for them to truly be called a super team. The difficulty of drafting in every sport varies, but it’s still impressive when teams like the Golden State Warriors drafted their core stars.
Fans love hearing about teams building through the draft, but what they don’t realize is that this is just not a realistic option for these professional teams. The amount of money a team can get in professional sports is mostly based on how much success a team has on the field. Building through the draft requires a lot of patience and time to develop the future superstars a team may have picked up. In the modern era especially, trades and free agency pickups have become much more legitimate options for teams than before to become better immediately. The modern era in sports has definitely brought on this win now mentality as well. With new technology, fans can now access games, stats, and highlights much faster than ever before. When fans take time out of their own day to look at these things, they don’t want to see a young player slowly progress into what he is projected to be. Some do like to see the progress made by young players in a game, but most will rather panic and call that player a bust if he/she struggles in a handful of games their rookie year. That’s how a lot of basketball fans are with players like Lonzo Ball, despite posting numbers in the top 10 for point guards in every statistical category except for points as a rookie.
Some markets and cities are different from others, but I think it can be agreed on that most fans will be more than willing to dump a young and promising player, if he hasn’t shown consistent enough flashes of greatness by year 3 or 4. Fans may lose interest if teams show loyalty to players who may be developing but are not making a win or lose impact right now. Teams realize this when they see their financial numbers begin to drop, but there’s usually a quick and simple solution to those financial woes. If they want success financially and on the field, building a super team will fix that right away. Teams like the Big 3 Miami Heat and the Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos are teams that benefited financially from attracting stars. There’s always such a big media presence when a super team is born, and that alone can help a franchise financially. At the very least, it causes a lot of buzz and good publicity that will increase the fan interests exponentially sometimes. Professional sports are a business first, and every team owner understands this. Building a super team is just as much a business decision as a sports decision. It’s no question, that a super team will keep an owner or GM in the good graces of the fans they are trying to please.
The numbers don’t lie. The entertainment these super teams generate on the field or court translate nicely into ratings, views, and profit for professional leagues and teams. Ratings have always historically been high when it comes to championship games involving at least 1 super team. Super teams make sports what they are, and simply litter the history books. The highest rated and most watched NBA finals game of all time is game 6 of the 1998 Finals featuring a Jazz team led by Stockton and Malone against the Bulls super team. If you want to look deeper into it, the highest rated and most watched NBA finals series on CBS was the 1987 finals between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. This series featured Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul- Jabbar, and James Worthy against a stacked Celtics team that had 5 hall of Famers. Their team included Larry Bird, Artis Gilmore, Dennis Johnson, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parrish.
The highest rated and most watched finals series on NBC was the 2016 NBA finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. The Golden State Warriors of this season may not have had 3 surefire Hall of Famers, but any team that breaks the single-season wins record is definitely a super team. Of course, everyone remembers that the underdog Cavaliers led by LeBron would make history by winning the series. People simply love watching stars battle each other, and the numbers don’t lie. Sure the increase in viewers can be credited towards the progress made in technology, but the lowest ratings and views of an NBA finals series are the 2003 and 2007 finals. These two series had hall of Famers on each side, but the number of hall of Famers was definitely on the lower side compared to most finals.
This is the same case in the NFL as well. This last Super Bowl pulled in the fewest viewers in 9 years. Everyone who skipped out on that Super Bowl definitely missed one of the best in recent years. Some would like to believe that people who are “protesting the NFL” by not watching the Super Bowl had a heavy effect on the views/ratings, but I don’t think that’s the case. It might be part of the case, but I highly doubt the viewer numbers dropped by 8 million because some players decided to speak. Let’s be real. The Philadelphia Eagles were good, but they weren’t considered a super team like the Patriots were leading into the Super Bowl. Especially without Carson Wentz, it looked like the Eagles were about to be exposed after having home-field advantage for so many straight weeks. They barely beat the Falcons in their first playoff game, and everyone knows if they played the Vikings in Minnesota the Eagles would’ve had significantly less success. The fact of the matter was that the Eagles on paper didn’t look like they had as good a chance to beat the Patriots such as teams like the Vikings, Saints, or even the Falcons. Those teams just seemed more well rounded on paper. I believe the fact that this Patriots team was proclaimed a super team, and they had probably the least threatening challenger coming from the NFC had to contribute more to the low views.
The 2015 Patriots and Seahawks Super Bowl does show that super teams do help sports if the matchup isn’t too one-sided like this last year’s Super Bowl seemed to be. After a while, people do get sick of super teams, but every now and then a challenger comes up that can square up well with that team. The Seahawks seemed to be that team in 2015, and everyone was already talking about the beginning of a Seahawks dynasty after they beat another super team in the Peyton Manning-led Broncos the Super Bowl before. As a quick side note, I consider that Broncos team a super team because they shattered offensive records. Also, they did pick up players like Wes Welker and eventually Demarcus Ware in free agency. Anyways it’s games like this that help sports so much and makes it so entertaining. That Super Bowl brought in the most viewers in Super Bowl history. Of course, the Patriots won, but it doesn’t change the fact that people were pulled in by the idea of one team defending their dynasty while another one is trying to build one.
Most sports are team sports and should be considered as such. People love seeing teams playing great team ball, and winning multiple championships together. Even when it seems one-sided, people will always tune in either to see that super team further their legacy or another super team mark the end of it. Super teams simply mean that history is being made whenever they play. Sure people like to see underdog stories, and great athletes carry teams but the fact of the matter is that sports history tends to be written more by these great dynasties. Without these super teams, then these underdog performances simply won’t be appreciated as much as they are. Super teams are needed to appreciate those great stories while furthering the success and popularity of professional sports altogether. Super teams are simply an important piece in the cycle of success in professional sports.